Tuesday 25 May 2010

I Found New Things To Read!

I was surfing my usual websites this morning, when I stumbled upon a link to something new and wonderful: new (to me) blogs written by women. Not just any women: Crossfitting, paleo-eating, fit, happy women.

Reading what they've written has totally brightened my day! I love a good success story, but even more than that, I love reading about people living their lives the way that they want to and having fun doing it. It's empowering and inspiring.

New To Me Blogs:

The Clothes Make The Girl by Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan. I've read her comments on Urban Gets Diesel and the Whole9 Blog for a while...lots of awesome things to say.

I Want To Be Healthy and Strong by Catherine Hart. Catherine has an amazing success story about her Crossfit Journey.

Primal Eating Modern Table by Crystal Nelson and Lauren Sheehan. A great site that provides information on how to transition to a primal lifestyle and support to reach your primal goals.

Those are a few of the new blogs I've been reading (when I should probably be doing work). I'm sure the magical workings of the interwebs will bring me more awesome blogs in the near future.

Monday 24 May 2010

Come On Baby Flip My Tire...err...

As M and I have gotten more and more into this Crossfit thing, we've tried to find ways that we can contribute to our friends' slash trainers' business endeavor. Partially because we can workout with them for free right now (other Crossfit gyms in the area charge as much as $350.00 a month for membership), but mostly because we want to see their gym-owning dreams become reality.

M has been on the hunt for the past couple of months for a piece of equipment to add to the gym. Something really big...and really heavy. He wanted to give the gym that "we're even more hardcore than you thought" vibe that every Crossfit gym needs. M's had a couple of leads, but none of them worked out until last week, when I arrived home to find a gigantic TIRE in our driveway! Behold:

A Big Effing Tire. Of course, this picture doesn't do it justice. The tire is about 5 feet tall and it weighs about 150lbs, which is much lighter than we thought. (Basically that means we're technically still on the prowl for an even heavier tire.) I'm not sure what kind of vehicle this tire came from, but I know that a grown man could fit inside it and roll down a hill Natty Gann style. This tire is great for flipping and sledgehammering. The day we got it, we rolled it over to the gym, conveniently located in our friend's driveway two blocks away, and went to town.

Big Effing Tire Workout: (it's called something else, obviously, but I have no idea where the found this one...so this name will have to suffice)

As Many Rounds As Possible (AMRAP) in 12 Minutes of:
  • 5 Tire Flips
  • 10 Box Jumps
  • 20 Tire Sledgehammer Strikes (for lack of a better term) 10 on each side.
I think I like AMRAP workouts because they force me to get competitive with myself and work as hard as I can for as long as I can. Luckily, I was able to do all of these exercises as prescribed, so I really felt like I was working as hard as possible. It took a little while to get the hang of the sledgehammering: swinging a 10lb hammer over my head was not a motion I was used to, but I got into a rhythm after a while.

I heart the Big Tire! Using things like Big Tires and sledgehammers really keeps our workouts interesting...I'd much rather flip a tire out in the sun than do a million reps on the smith machine at the gym. M and I are looking for other interesting pieces to add to the collection. Methinks M has his eye on some Undulation Ropes...I'll let you know how that goes.

Have you ever worked out with unconventional equipment before?

Thursday 20 May 2010

Cuckoo for Coconuts

Last week, I received a gift basket in the mail from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I happened to sign up for the program on a day when they were offering this special promotion. The gift basket was full of books, and samples...mmmMMMMmmm...samples. I have become particularly smitten with one of said samples: Vanilla Almond Snakaroons from Laughing Giraffe Organics.
Laughing Giraffe Organics was started by an IIN graduate, Justin Baumgartner. They are a small, family owned and operated company in Phoenix, Arizona committed to making delicious, "nutrient dense, minimally processed snack foods". I closely relate to and really appreciate their mission statement:
We believe that the energy that goes into making your food is as important as the ingredients themselves. The intention behind creating your food is important to us. Is your food made with disregard for the people making it? Is there more focus on profit margins than the quality of your food or the well being of the people preparing your food? At Laughing Giraffe Organics these things concern us. We believe that happy, well taken care of employees, who take pride in what they do because they are appreciated make a better more nourishing product.
I am in LOVE with the Snakaroons! I could eat them everyday and/or eat the whole package at once. Coconutty goodness in every bite! They are dense, chewy and jam-packed with flavor and good fats. These treats are a little on the sweet side, but the sweetness comes from organic agave nectar... so, in my opinion, they are a great choice to satisfy a sugar craving, because they won't mess too much with your blood sugar.

For anyone looking for a delicious, nutritious way to satisfy a sweet tooth, while supporting a family run company, this is it. The nutritional value of these coconut morsels make them a better choice than many other sweets...lots of good, saturated fat and protein. The only downside is that Laughing Giraffe is located in Arizona, and it is not super environmentally friendly to have them shipped across the country...but they offer free shipping on orders of six or more items...so if you buy in bulk, or go in on some treats with friends, you'll certainly reap the benefits of this amazing company and product.

Wednesday 19 May 2010

The Great Breakfast Experiment of 2010

Last week, after my horrible whey protein breakfast experience, I decided to actively partake in a Breakfast Experiment. The Breakfast Experiment was first brought to my attention in the "warm-up" classes for my Institute of Integrative Nutrition program. We were all asked to record what we eat for breakfast each day of the week, and record how we feel two hours later, and then in the evening. We were also encouraged to experiment with different types of breakfast foods.

I'm kind of stubborn when it comes to breakfast: I love me my eggs. I usually eat one egg and two or three egg whites every morning with some fruit. When I first read about the experiment, I wasn't really in the mood to switch things up, because I know that this breakfast works for me. Last week I was hit by a sudden urge to try something different...and it went terribly wrong. As a result, I decided to experiment with types and amounts of breakfast food to see what really holds me over and gives me energy...

Wednesday, May 12th
Breakfast (8:00am): Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein, one scoop with one cup almond milk, almond butter, spinach and flax seeds. (A Green Monster gone bad)

10:00am: UGH...I hate whey protein...and I secretly knew this would happen: I felt sick to my stomach all morning.

5:00pm: Even after lunch and my delicious snack, I still felt hungry and a little sick. I ended up having a headache...and taking a nap on the commute home (don't worry...I wasn't driving).

Thursday, May 13th
8:00am: One egg and three egg whites & a large Dunkin' Donuts Coffee with cream and splenda (I usually have something in addition to the eggs...but we're due for a grocery store trip aka out of everything.)

10:00am: Hungry! Breakfast was not substantial enough to hold me over until Lunch.

5:00pm: Doin' good...probably the bowl o' Boloco I had for lunch...

Friday, May 14th
8:00am: One egg and two whites scrambled with 1 cup spinach, strawberries and coffee with milk and stevia

10:00am: I can't tell if I have my morning snack out of habit...or if I'm actually hungry. I think this time it was truly hunger...I had an apple and 1/2 of a Cinnamon Roll Larabar.

5:00pm: I'm starting to think that lunch is my most important meal of the day...I usually don't need an afternoon snack after a good lunch. Does this mean I'm eating too much for lunch? Or that because I need a morning snack, I'm still not eating enough for breakfast?

Saturday, May 15th
9:30am: Ditto yesterday, but this time...WITH BACON!

11:30am: Weekends are tough...I lose track of time...I was fairly satisfied all morning long. Was it the bacon? Or that my brain was occupied instead of sitting in front of a computer watching the clock?

5:00pm: Doing pretty well...forgot to eat lunch...which probably means my breakfast was AWESOME.

Sunday, May 16th
10:00am: Pink Lady Apple with 2 tbsp Almond butter, coffee (a couple of fork fulls of M's eggs and guacamole...YUM). I didn't feel like making a huge production with the breakfasts...so I went for something simple. I was going to be home all day anyway, so I didn't need to hold myself over for anything.

12:00pm: In the middle of an intense clean and jerk Crossfit workout-- I guess my apple helped me through.

5:00pm: Still going strong (with the help of a turkey burger lunch)

Monday, May 17th
8:00am: Two eggs and two whites scrambled, with a leftover steak tip from Doms!

10:00am: Feeling pretty good. The extra fat and protein from the steak tips helped tide me over until lunch.

5:00pm: I still gots to have my afternoon snacks! I needed a little kick to get me through the afternoon...maybe I need to do the "Great Lunch Experiment of 2010"

Tuesday, May 18th
8:00am: I gave the Green Monster another shot-- this time, without the whey protein. Spinach, flax seeds, 1 Tbsp almond butter, one cup almond milk and 1/2 a banana.

10:00am: Woot! I'm not hungry! Even better: I'm not sick to my stomach...'twas definitely the whey.

5:00pm: Hungry for dinner! I ate a little less protein than usual at lunch...so that's probably why.

Wednesday, May 19th
8:00am: Back to the usual-- one egg, two whites scrambled with spinach and a large coffee from Dunkin' Donuts.

10:00am: Still feeling pretty good...

Conclusions: After recording my breakfasts for the past week, and really paying attention to how my body felt after each meal, I've decided that the best breakfast for me is one high in whole food protein. I also feel most satisfied mentally when I have a "food" breakfast, like eggs, as opposed to a "drink" breakfast like the Green Monster.
My egg and spinach breakfast has about 17g of protein according to The Daily Burn, which, for me, is a great way to jump start my day.

Even though the Green Monster is nutritious, I found myself wanting to eat more (even though I wasn't so hungry) after having it for breakfast. I'm pretty sure it's a mental thing: I feel like I didn't eat anything...because I drank my breakfast. I do, however, really like experimenting with the spinach shakes and I plan to try more tasty recipes...I'll just need to remind myself that I am getting nutrients...and that using a straw for breakfast can be as satisfying as using a fork.

I've also discovered that (duh) lunches are pretty important for me. Breakfast might help me start my day, but a well rounded lunch can hold me out for much longer than my breakfast...maybe I need to eat more breakfast...I probably should have varied things a little more...oh well, I'm done with the official experiment for now, but I plan to keep trying new foods and different quantities of food.

Has anyone else ever done this kind of experiment before? What kind of breakfast works the best for you?

Monday 17 May 2010

Before You Go Nuts...

I came across an article in the New York Times today about a new nutritional study stating that eating about two ounces of nuts a day can lower your cholesterol. The study looked at data from 25 preexisting nut consumption trials that involved 583 men and women from 7 countries with normal and elevated blood cholesterol levels. A analysis of the pooled data revealed that eating 67g (2.4 oz) of nuts a day could significantly lower one's cholesterol.

Don't get me wrong, I think nuts are great. I eat them everyday (mostly almonds). Nuts are full of good fats and have a fair amount of plant-based protein. They are, however, very calorie and nutrient dense. A serving of nuts is typically one ounce, which is usually characterized as "one handful." One serving of almonds has about 160 calories and 14g of fat, while one serving of walnuts as about 200 calories and 18g of fat. According to this study, you should be eating almost two and a half servings of nuts a day if you want to lower your cholesterol-- If you chose walnuts, this would mean an additional 500 calories and 45g of fat per day. Most diets, such as The South Beach Diet, and even the Primal Blueprint recommend eating no more than one serving of nuts per day.

I am not a medical professional, nor do I want to sound preachy... but before you go nuts with the nuts, maybe consider some other ways to lower your cholesterol...like taking a look at your red meat consumption, and maybe increasing whole grains. I love almonds and pecans and walnuts-- I eat about an ounce pretty much every day (I might be a little too addicted to almond butter for my own good), but I know that if I were to eat two servings a day, my waistline would most definitely increase. Definitely eat nuts, but maybe consume them in moderation...everyday...just a little bit...

Wednesday 12 May 2010

Snack for My Angry Stomach

I made this mistake of drinking a whey protein shake for breakfast this morning. For some reason, my tummy can't handle the wheys-- When M and I used to beef-up at the gym, I used to drink them after almost every tough workout...and 70% of the time, they would make me puke. I always attributed the sickness to the intensity of our exercise and not the whey. This morning, however, I had not exercised anything but my subconscious (dreaming), so it must be the whey.

I'd heard from people that coconut water can soothe an upset stomach in addition to being nature's Gatorade. Mark of Mark's Daily Apple goes into more detail about the amazing nutritional qualities and the versatility of the coconut here.

So for a snack today I had a Vita Coco coconut water with peach and mango to appease my tum, and a Kind Nut Delight bar as a treat to make my her happy.

Glamour Shots

I need to find a good whey protein alternative that's also not soy protein...maybe I'll just stick to getting my protein from whole food sources instead...

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Introducing Whil Wheber and Some Sick-Nasty Kabobs

For our birthdays this past year, M and I decided it was time to buy each other a grill. Not just any grill...a Weber Spirit E-310.

We've named him Whil Wheber to honor Wil Wheaton of Star Trek fame via Family Guy (first runner up went to Gril Weber). Yes, it's a little nerdy. What's NOT nerdy is how awesome M is at grilling stuff. Most of the meals that we cook at home now involve the grill in one capacity or another. We love having people over for BBQs (recently mostly indoors because of the terrible New England Weather) to share the grill wealth.

Last night, we had the most de-li-cious grilled chicken kabobs that I've ever had-- and that's saying a lot as considering I am somewhat of a chicken kabob connoisseur. M marinated the chicken over the weekend using Organicville Island Teriyaki and Sesame Teriyaki marinades. These sauces are amazing! Not only do they taste great, they are also gluten free, and made with agave nectar.

We chopped up some red bell pepper and red onion and skewered:

Whil Wheber in action:

We also tossed on some tomatoes and some Cajun Chicken. Plenty of food for dinner, lunch and another dinner.

The end result:

On the side we had a salad with some lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and mushroom. (Paper plates equal me not being in the mood to do dishes...)

These were, by far, the best chicken kabobs I've ever had...and we made them at home, which makes me really happy! Have you ever noticed that when you cook a really great meal at home, you feel one thousand times happier than when you get a great meal at a restaurant? M and I have been trying to cook at home a lot recently, and, if I do say so, our creations have been phenomenal. We feel more nourished and like we've accomplished something after we cook a nice dinner.

Yay for Whil Wheber! He makes us delicious food and saves us money!

Monday 10 May 2010

Flip Flip Flipadelphia

This past weekend I made a trip to Philadelphia with my sister, mother and aunt to visit my grandmother for Mother's Day. It was a whirlwind tour (flew in Saturday and out Sunday), but we managed to get in some good quality visiting time.

Upon our arrival, we went to the Ardmore Farmer's Market for lunch.

Great Harvest Bread Company!

Delicious sausage treats

Lots of fresh veggies

Mother's Day Treats

On Mother's Day, we had a wonderful brunch at my Grandparent's retirement community


My sister's downfall...

Round One

Round Two. Yes, I did have seconds on the bacons. You can never have too much bacon...

It was a wonderful Mother's Day weekend! I am so thankful that I have such a wonderful mother...and family!

Friday 7 May 2010

The Importance of Physical Activity or, My Armpits are Swollen

Well...not my armpits exactly, but my latissimus dorsi. They are, no joke, swollen. I look like a crazy, roided-out dude right now...well, not exactly...but I can't comfortably put my arms down at my sides.

Why? You may ask. Because we started doing Crossfit. M and I had a serious discussion about cardiovascular fitness on one of our weekly hikes at the dog park. We decided (obviously) that we need to do some kind of physical activity to be healthy-- eating clean 90% of the time helps, but doesn't get your blood pumping like a nice jog. Plus physical activity also plays an important role balancing the rest of our lives-- it can influence moods thereby influencing relationships, how one feels about his job, and even the food on one's plate.

We know we should be exercising more, but how much more? And what kind of exercise? I'm starting to trust "official recommendations" less and less-- how do they know what's good for me? M and I used to go to the gym religiously--so much so that we got totally burnt out and completely stopped going. Our physical activity for the past few months has been mostly hiking with the dogs with a jog or a boxing session sprinkled in here and there.

In order to implement regular exercise, we decided a non-traditional approach would work better for us. We decided to go the Crossfit route. A few of our friends have been doing it faithfully for a few years now, and M has done it in the past. Basically, they are super intense workouts designed to work multiple muscle groups in minimal time. Here's a great explanation from the Crossfit Main site:
"CrossFit is in large part derived from several simple observations garnered through hanging out with athletes for thirty years and willingness, if not eagerness, to experiment coupled with a total disregard for conventional wisdom. Let me share some of the more formative of these observations:
1. Gymnasts learn new sports faster than other athletes.
2. Olympic lifters can apply more useful power to more activities than other athletes.
3. Powerlifters are stronger than other athletes.
4. Sprinters can match the cardiovascular performance of endurance athletes even at extended efforts.
5. Endurance athletes are woefully lacking in total physical capacity.
6. With high carb diets you either get fat or weak.
7. Bodybuilders can't punch, jump, run, or throw like athletes can.
8. Segmenting training efforts delivers a segmented capacity.
9. Optimizing physical capacity requires training at unsustainable intensities.
10. The world's most successful athletes and coaches rely on exercise science the way deer hunters rely on the accordion."

The first workout we did (the one that swelled my armpits) was one round of 70 Burpees, 60 Sit ups, 50 Kettlebell swings, 40 Pull ups and 30 Handstand push ups for time. (I did a modified version 50-40-30-20-10, but it still totally kicked my butt...er...armpits). We didn't time ourselves, but from the comments on the website it seems like most people did this in under 20 minutes...insane.

We are sore and blistered, but we will persevere. I know that things will be less inflamed in time. After all, it's important for your mind, body and soul to exercise regularly. "No pain, no gain"

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Beautiful Day Equals Colorful Lunch...and a Red Sox Game!

Yesterday was a beautiful day in Boston! So beautiful that I decided to take a walk for my lunch break-- I went on a two mile loop that just happened to take me by a Whole Foods...so I splurged on some fruit and a salad. Unfortunately, the two mile walk eats up most of my lunch...so I had to eat at my desk instead of outside in the sun.

A rainbow salad featuring cabbage, cucumbers, carrots, squash, cherry tomatoes, red and yellow bell peppers, roasted sweet potato and sliced almonds, and some mixed berries and grapes for dessert. The hot weather had me wanting lots of fresh fruits and veggies.

On my trip to Whole Foods, I also bought some Organic Sunflower Seed Butter that I've been wanting to try.

For my afternoon snack, I had a spoonful of the nut butter and the rest of my mixed berries. It was super sunflower seedy tasting, which was a nice change of pace from my usual nut butters.

The weather held out for the Sox game...M and I decided to eat dinner at Fenway.

Turkey Tips and a Premio Italian Sausage...yum!

It wouldn't be a baseball game without beer! Miller Lite to be exact...classy.

(Sigh)I love Boston!

Monday 3 May 2010

Mama's Got a Brand New Bag

I readily acknowledge that I have a mild bag addiction. A few weeks ago, I saw M's sister's Ogio work bag and fell in love! It might sound silly, but seeing her bag actually fed my motivation to start my own health counseling business...so that I could have an awesome work bag of my own!

But why wait until I officially start my business? Why not just get one now?! So I immediately started my online shopping spree and in no time I found a bag that has everything I need to be a business lady.

The Stockton Bag from Timbuk2. Obviously I will fill it with my pearl necklaces, magazines and trendy rec specs (?). It's perfect...and it comes in the mail today! YAY for new bags! Now I'm ready to start my business...right?